For Immediate Release: April 19, 2013, 12:OO PM Contact: John Blair @ 812-464-5663
Valley Watch calls for immediate moratorium and re-assessment of siting criteria for locating fertilizer plants in SW Indiana
While our sympathies go out to the victims of the tragedy in the town of West, Texas on Wednesday night, that tragedy underscores the necessity for siting giant industrial scale fertilizer manufacturing plants in the safest, most common sense fashion, away from other explosive hazards and concentrations of people, be they workers or residents.
In southwest Indiana, two $1 billion + ammonium nitrate plants are proposed, one in Rockport, and one in Mt. Vernon. In both cases, economic development officials have proposed sites that are immediately adjacent to plants that could exacerbate not only the destruction but also the human injuries and loos of life should an “industrial accident” like that this week occur in either location.
In Rockport, where IDEM has already issued a “draft” air and construction permit for a plant that is proposed to make 3,600 tons per day of ammonium nitrate, the risk is huge should something go wrong since it is proposed to be built adjacent to the controversial Indiana Gasification facility that is designed to manufacture synthetic “natural gas” from coal.
In Mt. Vernon, the risk of an accident increases greatly due to its proposed location adjacent to one the largest ethanol plants in the world, producing 110,000,000 gallons annually at full capacity.
Both of these facilities are dangerous on their own but the combination of ammonium nitrate and other explosive materials like ethanol and syngas increases the risk dramatically.
By scale alone, the proposals for southwest Indiana are giant compared to the plant that blew up in Texas on Wednesday. Ohio Valley Resources’ Rockport draft permit calls for ammonium nitrate manufacture of 3,600 tons per day, compared to the West plant of 4,771 tons per year.
Valley Watch’s purpose is “to protect the public health and environment of the lower Ohio River valley.” In that capacity, we are calling today for an immediate “moratorium and site re-assessment” on environmental permits and State and local tax and other incentives for both of these proposed plants. In the case of the Rockport proposal, IDEM has already issued a draft air permit and is scheduled to hold a public hearing on it on the Evening of May 15 at South Spencer High School.
At Mt. Vernon, the state has already issued some kind of tax exempt bonding authority amounting to $1.2 billion which we understand is currently “on hold” at the direction of Indiana Governor, Mike Pence who has serious questions about the owners of that proposal, a Pakistani company named Fatima, as they relate to the supply of ammonium nitrate used in the manufacture of Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs by the Taliban against American troops in Afghanistan.
We will be seeking meetings with government officials including the Governor, public safety, environmental and local government executives to ask, indeed, demand that an moratorium and site safety assessment be made prior to allowing the location of these time bombs to be constructed. We hope that others will join our call for this moratorium and demand that public safety take precedent over the prospect of perceived economic growth of the region and if these must be built that they choose sites that take public safety as their first consideration. -30-